Prison resident talking to PCO helping her through trauma

Trauma informed at Bronzefield

Published on : 2/25/20
  • In the UK, one in four women experience domestic abuse every year and on average, two women are killed each week by their ex or current partners. Sodexo Justice adopts a ‘trauma informed’ approach to how it treats the women in its care at HMP & YOI Bronzefield in Surrey.

    In an analysis of the women at HMP Bronzefield, 58% of women reported that they had been a victim of domestic abuse in the past. 

    It is well documented that prison and the criminal justice system can have a ‘re- traumatising’ effect on women who have experienced ordeals in their past. Sodexo Justice is dedicated to ensuring its practices and approach to working with, and rehabilitating, residents takes on a trauma-informed style. 

    From staff training, through to the way we address the women and the physical environment around them, Sodexo employees are playing a pivotal role in ensuring Bronzefield is a safe and secure environment for both staff and residents. 

    PCO speaking to inmate helping her through trauma“We are mindful that the word ‘prison’ can strike fear and concern into many people, particularly for those women who find themselves here after days in a police cell or at court,” said Vicky Robinson, Sodexo’s Deputy Director at the prison. “However we strongly believe that prison can, and should, be a vehicle for positive change, where women can work on their rehabilitation and progression supported by our staff who have been trained to look beyond a person’s behaviour and work collaboratively with them.” 

    Together with partner Central North West London NHS, the team has developed an Enhanced Offender Management programme (EOS). EOS uses a psychologically informed approach to work with both high-risk women and custodial staff. 

    The programme aims to encourage the women to engage with the support networks around them; helping facilitate trusting relationships between the women, their network and the wider criminal justice system. EOS was initially piloted with five women who were at the most risk of harm or reoffending and is now used in supporting seven women at a time. 

    The programme has been hailed as a success by HMPPS and has been expanded to other prisons so more women can access the service. 

    As part of the EOS programme, Bronzefield staff have been trained in ‘Mentalisation Based Therapy’ which improves reflective function in people with severe borderline personality disorder. The residents who take part become more engaged and are developing their own plans and goals. They have gained a better understanding of the risk to themselves and others and have developed the knowledge and skills to help them manage crises. 

    The impact of this has been felt not just by the individual but also by staff across the prison. The women have increased the hours spent in work and activities and their self harm incidents have reduced alongside time spent in Separation and Care and in Healthcare. 

    To further extend the trauma-informed approach, Bronzefield’s team has worked with the charity One Small Thing to train peer workers to deliver a ‘Healing Trauma’ intervention. 

    “The ‘Becoming Trauma Informed’ training taught me that it’s the small changes that count, how we lock and unlock doors and how we speak to someone; managing behaviour is a human problem,” said Senior Prison Custody Officer Derrick Riley.

    We can provide women in custody with a sense of decency, dignity, and security. A trauma-informed approach ensures that each woman is understood and that the unforeseen consequences of trauma are appreciated.

    Sodexo Justice’s team at HMP Peterborough is now developing a trauma-informed approach for its male residents, building on the positive changes achieved with female residents at Bronzefield since its introduction.